A Chat With the Directors of The Darkest Alley!

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Those who know me in person probably also know that I’m a big film buff. In fact, I happen to be a fan of dark and disturbing films like The Bunny GameIrreversible, and Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, so it doesn’t seem like that much of a surprise that I would be intrigued by the dark web.

I had been tweeting one of my blog posts related to red rooms (i.e. alleged dark web sites in which someone is tortured to death on a live stream), and a guy by the name of Rohit Kumar (@Raw_Heat420) tweeted back, “I see you are interested in red rooms hahaha.”

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Do you like the red room?

This sparked a brief conversation between us, and in the process, I learned that Kumar and his cousin, Mayank Kaushal, are making a film about the dark web (including red rooms) called The Darkest Alley.

Apparently, the catalyst for making this film was a story (or some would say creepypasta) told by YouTuber Corpse Husband, entitled Horrifying Deep Web Stories: “Why I Quit Hacking”.  I, too, had heard this story, and regardless of whether it’s true or not, I found it to be one of the scariest and most convincing dark web stories on YouTube.  (Actually, in his words, it is true – who am I to say otherwise?) 

It’s told from the point-of-view of a former hacker who ghost hacks into a heavily protected dark web site, and discovers some things that he ends up truly regretting.

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Fast forward: I decided to interview Kumar and Kaushal about their film, as well as their experiences on the dark web. The interview took place over Twitter.  Oddly enough, it turned out we had had many common experiences in the process of exploring the dark web.

Secrets of the Dark: How long have you been into filmmaking? (either of you) In other words, is this a recent thing or have you been doing it for quite some time?

Mayank Kaushal: We’ve always been into making and editing movies for fun for years on YouTube. After a while we began perfecting our craft and slowly we got requests from clients for custom work. Just recently we came to the the conclusion that it was time to see our full potential, exactly what we could accomplish with our skills from over the years.

SotD: I saw on your fundraiser page that you were inspired to make this film by the short story that Corpse Husband told (“Why I Quit Being A Hacker”). Do you think that story is true? Some people say it’s just a creepypasta, is why I ask.

MK: We believe some parts of the story might have been true, but we do think stuff like this happens on the deep web when the user isn’t careful.  This story gave us the idea that there is something about the unknown that is very creepy.  Red rooms being one of those mysterious aspects.  Also, I thought this particular story was magnificently detailed, to the point that I was feeling the same thoughts that the [protagonist] was going through.  That alone got me excited to think what a movie on this would be like.

SotD: I agree!  It was one of the best stories about that subject matter.  In that same vein, are you willing to give a brief summary of what your film is about (without spoiling it, of course)?

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Rohit Kumar: Keep in mind that this movie was inspired by one 20 minute scene which we have adapted into a feature film.  The film [is set] in Houston, Texas, where a college-typical student is struggling to pay his way through college.  He turns to drugs and eventually finds himself on the deep web selling his product.  Everything looks great until he ends up on the wrong site and suddenly his life gets turned upside down.

SotD: Oh, OK – so the film story really is directly influenced by the Corpse Husband story then!  I would still like to see it if I have the chance.

RK: That is correct; we feel like if we leave anything out we aren’t doing the story any justice.

SotD: Gotcha, that makes sense.  Have you already cast all of the actors yet for the film?

MK: We have casted [sic] all of the main actors; we just need to confirm our extras.

SotD: I see, so you’re getting there!  I’ve also been curious about the research you did for the film.  Did you actually visit the deep web/dark web a lot, and did you come across any real red rooms?

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Note: This is not a real red room!

RK: Yes, since this [is] our very first dab at this we are finding out that there is a whole lot of work involved behind the scenes [for] a film of this caliber.

SotD: What kinds of things have you seen on Tor that you’d be willing to talk about?  Or on other parts of the dark web, that is.  (If you’re not comfortable sharing it, then don’t, of course!)

MK: Hold on, this is a long one haha!

SoTD: OK, no problem!! Just trying to clarify.

RK: In order to prepare thoroughly for [the] film and each character we did extensive research in real world scenarios.  I spent around 6-8 months surfing the deep web using Tor until my personal security was compromised due to carelessness.  We studied many documentaries on the production and distribution of narcotics and witnessed real transactions in order to play each part as genuine as possible.

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MK: As for Tor, we were using Skype to screen share some of our sessions, in retrospect a terrible idea, and came across a plethora of underage pornography, many bitcoin scam sites and 2 red room sites.  The red room sites turned out to be fake, but did a good job of showing how one would actually work.  In actuality a red room site [would] not be able to stream in HD the type of content that has been rumored on the clearnet.  It would also be very difficult to find such a website as it would more [than] likely be password protected. We even tried multiple chat rooms for many hours trying to find more information on the subject, but all we found were other curious minds and hackers/trolls.  All in all, the deep web is a great resource; [the] dark side of it is where it has its bad points.  The worst thing we saw were pictures of dismemberment, but we’ve already seen too much so it didn’t really faze us.

SoTD: Hahaha!  I get it – I’ve experienced almost all of the same things.  What experience do you have with special effects that would help you create some of the screen violence?

RK: I am trained with 3D modeling, and visual effects, and…Mayank is a graphics designer.  With these qualities teamed up with practical effects and great cinematography, we will bring this story to life on the big screen.

SoTD: Sounds very exciting!  And you’ve mentioned The Silk Road on Twitter and Instagram…did you visit any real darknet markets in the process?  (Like Alphabay, Silk Road 3, Agora [since closed])?

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AlphaBay Market

 

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Login page for Silk Road 3.0

MK: We used Grams to search particular products and we got return results from the Silk Road, Agora and Pandora.  We also used various directories to lookup [sic] sites, and some of those sites were offering drugs, but those didn’t look as trustworthy as the marketplaces aforementioned.

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The Grams darknet market search engine

SoTD: Trust me, I know what you mean.  Well, how soon do you think we’ll be able to actually see the movie?  You’ve got me anticipating it now!  I didn’t see an official release date…

RK: This…sounds absolutely crazy to me, trying to wrap my mind around [the] fact that this entire [thing] will be shot in under 12 days.  After the shoot, which is in late July, we are hoping to have it edited by February 2017 and will begin early screening in March.  The official release was being debated as a date in May or October 31st.  We ultimately came to the conclusion that the end of May 2017 will be better suited.

SoTD: That’s great to hear!  I really look forward to it.  Those were all the questions I had written for the moment…I’ll make a donation if I get a chance, too.

RK: Those were some great questions man, once again thanks for the opportunity!  Feel free to ask any questions here, as Mayank and I will be monitoring this account in order to build our following :).  Peace and love from the team at #TheDarkestAlley!

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Well, my fellow dark web enthusiasts, I hope you enjoyed the interview.  If the film sounds like something you’d want to see, and you want to help Rohit and Mayank raise some of the remaining funds they need, go to Indiegogo: The Darkest Alley, and make a donation!

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At the time of this writing, they’ve raised $311 of their $1450 goal.  (You get some swag in return for donating, by the way!)

As for me, I hope to see the film soon – best of luck in getting it out there, guys.

 

 

 

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Exploring Darknet Markets (One Pill Makes You Larger)

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DISCLAIMER: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to condone illegal activity.  Anything you do on the dark web is at your own risk.

As those who regularly keep up with Tor news know, the original Silk Road marketplace was shut down in 2013. Its successor, Silk Road 2.0, was shut down in 2014.

Obviously, this has barely stopped the darknet market business from booming (in fact, it probably helped).  Currently, there is a market going by the name of Silk Road 3.0.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it:

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Be that as it may, I’ve heard from some sources that this site is a scam (basically trying to capitalize on the Silk Road name), while others have said that they’ve had no problems.  It may depend on the individual vendors.

“I Used to Do Drugs…I Still Do, But I Used to, Too!” – Mitch Hedberg

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So, you may wonder, where else can I get reliable recommendations? Well, let me start off by saying that I’m not the requisite expert in darknet markets, but I do my research.

Someone had recently asked me on another site, “Which is the best darknet market?” I’m not sure if I can really answer that question, but I can compare them.

First of all, most darknet markets accept bitcoin, although some accept other cryptocurrencies as well (Dogecoin, Litecoin, Peercoin, etc.).

Second of all, they offer a variety of products (not just drugs) – although some specialize in products such as psychedelics, stolen credit cards, banned books, etc.

Third of all, different customers will inevitably have better or worse experiences than others on various sites (hey, the same thing happens on Amazon, right?)  This is where customer reviews and word-of-mouth come in extra handy, because you don’t always know whom you can trust…

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Shout-Out to Deepdotweb!!

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Hey guys!!  Beyond visiting the markets themselves, one of my most reliable sources for information on darknet markets is DeepDotWeb – Surfacing the News from the Deep Web.  You can also visit them at the above onion URL: DeepDotWeb on Tor.

They feature a Darknet Markets List that’s updated pretty frequently, and generally has very accurate information.  

According to them, some of the top markets are these:

Alphabay

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Valhalla (a.k.a. Silkkitie)

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Outlaw Market

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Dream Market

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Also among their list of trusted markets are:

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Vendor Shops

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Of note: it is sometimes helpful to read the customer reviews on each of these sites, because often the markets may look trustworthy, and they’re the farthest thing from it.

Scams and Phishing Links

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Darknetmarkets o r g / markets also features a list of markets, but this site, according to Beware of Phishing Scams On Clearnet Sites! (darknetmarkets.org) is a list of phishing links that will steal your login credentials for darknet markets. So stay away from that site altogether.

Good ‘Ol Reddit

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Finally, I would further recommend you check out the subreddits /r/DarkNetMarkets and /r/DarkNetMarketsNoobs.  They tend to give reliable, up-to-date information as well.

There are, of course, quite a few other markets and vendors, too!  In my experience, general word-of-mouth is one way you can .  Or you could just try them out yourself and learn the hard way…

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What do you see in the center??

Investigation Underway!!

Of course, I don’t simply want to take everyone else’s word for it – I’m in the process of checking some of these out as well.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be trying out the individual products (although that may help with the creativity part)…

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In the meantime, perhaps you can find the answer(s) to the question, “What were they smoking?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grams: The Google of Darknet Markets

Not long ago, I was asked this question on Quora: “How do I use Grams, the deep web search engine?”  I thought it was worth talking about here as well.

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As you can see above, it looks a lot like Google – except that Grams, as its title implies, is designed to search for darknet markets, particularly those that sell drugs (but other products are available as well).  Drugs just seem to be the most popular items.

Although the link is shown in the picture, here it is again for those who really want to click on it: Grams Search Engine

It’s pretty easy to use, but generally, what you would do is type in the name of a specific drug, vendor, or service, and it should come up in the search results.  For example, let’s say you type in “ecstasy pills,” or “ecstasy” – the results would look similar to this:

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Image Source: Dazed: Now there’s a darknet ‘Google’ for finding drugs and guns

Grams has been around for a bit now, and its search algorithms have evolved, but generally, as with search engines like Google, Grams uses keywords in the titles and descriptions of products to find what you’re looking for.  It uses a custom API to extract listing data from the various darknet markets, which in turn shows up as results like the ones above.

As you can see in the screenshot, the listings show the name of the product, as well as the vendor, price, amount, location, and a brief description.

I Like The Drugs, and the Drugs Like Me!

When you actually go about the process of registering for the particular market you’re interested in, that can vary by site.  All of them require you to register, but some have a more involved screening process.  For example, in order to join the Valhalla Marketplace (a.k.a. Silkkitie), you need to go to this invite link first: Valhalla Invites.  That way they can make sure you’re a legit customer.

On Reddit, there was a referral link posted by their official account as well , but it’s from two months ago, so I don’t know if it’s still valid: Valhalla Registration Reddit.  By the way, Valhalla also has their own official WordPress blog, so check that out too! Valhalla Marketplace WordPress

As with most products on the Tor network, those sold in marketplaces such as Valhalla, Agora, and Silk Road 3.0 require bitcoin to purchase. If you don’t already have a bitcoin wallet, then you’ll have to set that up separately, but it’s fairly simple: Choose your wallet – Bitcoin is a good place to start.

WE ARE ANONYMOUS. 

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OK, pun intended – but seriously, I can’t stress this enough: if you’re signing up for any darknet market or forum on Tor, Freenet, etc., then come up with a username that you don’t use on the clearnet, and never use your real name!!  (I’d mentioned this in an earlier post, Deep Web: Fake Words and Secret Codes.)

I usually use the soybomb nonsense word generator or Fake Word Generator For Great Made-Up Words! to come up with things like screen names and usernames, unless I already have one in mind.

If you’re asked to upload a photo of yourself, pick a random one from Google images, or something along those lines.  Common sense, right?

On top of that, be mindful of the fact that there are many clone sites on the Tor network and elsewhere, that are often designed to steal login and financial information.  Most darknet markets will show their genuine URL on the front page, like this:

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That is, assuming the clone site didn’t do the same thing (which it might).

The one thing I confess I don’t have any experience with is actually purchasing any of the goods on a darknet market, but that probably varies a lot from buyer to buyer, and vendor to vendor.

If you decide to actually do this, just tread carefully.  Perhaps, with experience, using things like Grams and certain markets, you’ll be able to do so without much harm to yourself.

Except, you know, for the cocaine up your nose.